Alphonse Mucha Article - Evening Painting
Alphonse Mucha was born in 1860, in Ivancice, a small town close to the city of Brno in the Czech Republic. Legend says he was drawing before he could walk, but it is known that he was a amateur musician and choirboy during his childhood, and did finish school two years after his peers.
By 1887, along with every respectable artist of the time, Mucha ended up living and painting in Paris, studying at the Academie Julian. For five years, he lived on no money, drawing illustrations for magazines, and drawing inspiration from the Art Nouveau, Impressionist and Symbolism movements which were developing around him at the time.
On January 1st 1895, he presented his unique style in a poster ‘Gismonda’ for Sarah Bernhardt’s play. She recognized his talent and signed him to design her posters and sets for six years: overnight Mucha had become a success in Paris and commissions poured in.
By 1898, he had moved to a new studio, and begun creating sets of four large images for sale to art collectors: printed on silk he used nature for inspiration (four seasons, four times of day and four flowers). He displayed his art at the World Fair in Paris 1900.
His ‘Evening’ portrait (1902) demonstrates his skill at using bright, natural colours, shapes inspired by nature, strong composition, sensuous curves and the idea that everything could be art. The composition, with her beautiful figure, suggestive gestures and natural colours all create a sense of harmony - a mood reflected in it's title.
In 1909, Mucha was commissioned to paint a series of murals for the Lord Mayor's Hall in Prague. In 1928, after 18 years of his life, Mucha presented twenty huge canvasses (about 24 x 30 feet) to the city of Prague: these represented Mucha's hopes and dreams for his homeland.
After the First World War, the geopolitical world in Europe had changed: Moravia was now a part of a new nation, Czechoslovakia. Mucha offered to design the new bank notes and postage stamps for Czechoslovakia but this was rejected.
Having created portraits and paintings like ‘Evening’, Mucha was considered a patriot of his Czech homelands: he was one of the first to be arrested and questioned by the Gestapo when the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia. Shortly afterwards, he died on July 14, 1939.